Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Least Favorite Thing? Fiber One

I did a 'favorite things' post....but that was awkward for me. I'm not naturally a positive, tell-the-world-about-the-things-I-like-type person. Unfortunately talking about, discussing, criticizing, and generally ridiculing the things I don't like - now that rolls right off my tongue. Today some co-workers of mine reminded me of something I really dislike: Fiber One.

They lure you in with the healthy buzz word 'Fiber'. You think hey, I am supposed to have twice as much fiber in my diet (according to WebMD). Some brilliant doctors even recommend fiber to help with weight loss, so you think hey! Healthy weight loss! Brilliant! Sign me up!

So you eat some Fiber One products, expecting to avoid constipation and lose weight. Well duh you're going to lose weight when your entire system empties itself out in one day! Fiber One makes your digestive system a veritable slip 'n slide! Who wants to spend more time at work on the porcelain chair than in the office chair? Who wants to have to plan every hour of their day so that a clean, flushing toilet is never more than two minutes away? I once ate four Fiber One muffins in a day (not all in one sitting mind you, just throughout the day I would grab one of the muffins that was sitting on my counter, not knowing that they were Fiber One muffins) and I couldn't do anything to stop my digestive system for a week!

My experience with Fiber One products? Not good, and my experience has been corroborated by several people I know. It's like taking a chewy (in the case of the Fiber One bars) or crunchy (in the case of the cereals) laxative! It will open your eyes to the amount of crap (literally) that is inside your body by cleaning it all right out of you. If people were meant to eat that much fiber, we'd be herbivores who just ate grains all horses!

Now I understand that there are situations which may call for desperate digestive relief, but at the very least I think the following warning should appear on each and every Fiber One label so no unsuspecting people with normal digestive systems are turned inside-out by this stuff:

WARNING: Not to be consumed in large quantities unless a SERIOUS blockage is impeding your digestive abilities. If consumed unnecessarily, leakage may occur. Fiber One is not responsible for any ruined undergarments, emotional damage to other human beings in your vicinity, or mental problems that may result from spending an inordinate amount of time in the bathroom.

You're better off with Fiber NONE than Fiber One!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

April 9th, 2005 - A Defining Moment

An event doesn’t become a defining moment as a result of its gravity or scale, but rather through the change in direction it elicits. The approach of my younger sister's 5th birthday made me reflect on one of those defining moments....

During dinner one night in the Fall of my sophomore year, my parents gave me the most horrific news I had ever received. My mother was pregnant. Again. I am not typically an emotional person, but after a few minutes, I couldn’t restrain myself. A sort of shocked disbelieving laughter quickly turned into quiet sobbing, and then bawling so uncontrollable I had to leave the table and sprint up to my room. I already had four younger brothers, and I didn’t need or want any more siblings. Two years earlier my mom had had a baby, and with the emotional highs and lows that come with pregnancy coupled with the stress of taking care of four other kids, I just tried to stay out of my mom’s way for a year. I wasn’t really prepared for another year of exile in my room.
Once I finished venting about how the baby was “ruining my life before it was even born,” I was able to calm down and the dark cloud of doom seemed to pass from over my head, although doom clouds typically don’t stray far from teenagers. Then came the ultrasound; that highly anticipated image which appears to be a big blob of black and gray shadows but somehow reveals whether the child will be donning rosy pink or baby blue upon its arrival. It turned out pink was the color that would be invading our house for the next few years.

Having had four brothers and not one sister, this news was supposed to thrill me. However, the doom cloud came roaring back and I lost control. I went on a rampage with a green highlighter and left my mark everywhere. The florescent green words “Stupid Baby” appeared all over everything on our refrigerator, including and especially the ultrasound pictures.  I was swiftly and heavily reprimanded but my feelings remained unchanged. I had always been the only girl, the favorite daughter and sister, carving out my own place among a frenzy of brothers. Now there would be a new girl, sure to be everyone’s favorite if for no other reason than her age. She could be everything I was not. She could be the perfect girly girl and love getting her hair done. She could be the loving “huggy” type and be a star in some athletic endeavor, or even worse, she could be into dancing. My new "sister", I could barely choke out the word, could be my replacement.

The pregnancy months dragged on and finally in April, the “blessed” day arrived. The morning I was set to take the ACT, I got a phone call at 6:45am from my dad saying I had a healthy baby sister. All through the test I kept thinking, “Baby messing up my life phase two… post-pregnancy.” I finally got up to the hospital around two o’clock and was able to hold the baby that had been the object of all my resentment. Something I discovered at that moment: it’s absolutely impossible to be upset at a newborn baby. By no means did I have an epiphany moment where all my feelings of anger left me, but I slowly began to change my tune about the new addition to the family.

Having a sister sixteen years my junior has not been a cakewalk. Whenever I used to fill out forms that asked what language was spoken most in my home I looked for the box that said “Baby Talk”, but for some reason it was never an option. Whenever I tell people about my family and I mention George and Lucy (my youngest brother and sister) at the end, I always get questions like, “Oh, do your grandparents live with you?” and after I reply no but before I can explain they ask, “Oh do you have dogs or something?” Once again I must reply “no” and proceed to explain. I’ve changed enough diapers to fill an entire dumpster. My world has been flooded with more shades of pink than I knew existed.

Despite these and other drawbacks however, it has been nice to arrive home from school and have little person run up to meet me. It has been nice to have an ever-present source of entertainment to turn to between the long hours of school, work, and schoolwork. I learned first-hand the benefits of laughing rather than crying over spilled milk.

Nothing ever turns out the way you think it will; life’s full of surprises and change is inevitable. All the old adages are true. I just wish I would have realized it earlier. I learned a valuable lesson in the importance of rolling with the punches. Sometimes what appear to be punches turn out to be simple pushes in the right direction.   

Friday, March 12, 2010

My Favorite Things

A popular LDS hymn instructs us to 'count our blessings' when we are 'upon life's billows'. Psychologists tell us it is good for our mental health to contemplate the positives in life. Julie Andrews as Maria thinks of her favorite things when 'she's feeling sad' and then she doesn't 'feel so bad'. Bing Crosby (in White Christmas) suggests 'counting your blessings, instead of sheep' when falling asleep is difficult. And Oprah enjoy her blessings so much that she shares them with the entire country, and even gives them away for free on her show!

So maybe to get some spiritual energy, maybe for my mental health, maybe to lighten my mood, maybe because I can't fall asleep, but NOT because I am going to start giving things away... I decided to share some of my favorite things:
    - Psycholocial egoism,  the idea that there are no such things as selfless acts. Altruism does not exist. People act primarily out of self-interest. It starts some GREAT debates/conversations. And it makes me feel smart.

    -Sushi, I eat it at LEAST once a week. Raw tuna, raw eel, raw salmon, fish eggs, wasabi...I don't care! Just get it in my mouth! I've heard that when you're pregnant you aren't supposed to eat fish, especially tuna, raw or cooked. Trying to decide if a baby is worth that...thankfully that decision is a LOOOONG way off.

    -Walking/sitting around Central Park in November, with a scarf, a hot Starbucks cup, a camera, and a good book for gaps in interesting people watching.

    -Washing my feet. I do this every night. I think I picked it up from my dad - back when I was little I would always hear the water running when he was in the bathroom. For some reason I assumed that he was washing his feet. Later I found out that he used the water as a sound barrier to prevent unpleasant noises from within being heard by passers-by. But for some reason the feet-washing idea stuck with me.

    -Reading great books. I just finished a FABULOUS book called The Help, an excellent and entertaining read. Before that I read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - possibly my all time favorite book. I find myself wishing I could catch up with the characters, find out what's going on in their lives...then I remember they're fake. Depressing. But this post is supposed to be positive, so hooray for good books.

    -Winning. I LOVE to win, and thankfully I am a skilled game player so I win often. Turbo Scrabble, Scattergories, Nerts and California speed are some of my favorites. If there was a league for these games, I would join and I would dominate.

    -Bowling. Normally a game which involves putting on pre-worn ugly shoes, touching a greasy ball which has probably been held by hundreds of people who had previously touched who-knows-what, and playing in something called an 'alley' would NOT appeal to any part of my personality. However, I was conditioned to enjoy bowling, before I was aware of the greasiness and the germs. I am very grateful for this fact and hope to join a bowling league when I have the time and/or money.

    Not sure I feel more spiritual, more mentally sound, cheered up, and more tired...but there is a certain feeling of contentment that comes after reviewing the happy things in one's life. Plus it can't be wrong if it's in a hymn, from psychologists, Julie Andrews, Oprah AND Bing Crosby can it?

      Wednesday, March 3, 2010

      Parker - The Deficiency

      For those of you who don't know, I bought a car about six months ago. His name is Parker, he's a great little vehicle. (For more on Parker, click here). However, recently Parker and I have experienced some deficiencies and blow-outs in our relationship.

      The first was back in January. On my way back from the airport Parker's oil light came on. I had heard horror stories about driving without oil so I called my parents in a panic and was told to go to a has station and get some oil, as though this was the most obvious solution in the world. I was not enthused. For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to make enough money to ensure that I wouldn't have to know about cars. I have fluxuated in my desires to be wealthy, but I have always wanted to have enough to pay other people to take car of all car-related issues.

      Unfortunately, I couldn't buy my way out of this particular situation. I pulled into a Chevron station in Salt Lake and, after gathering myself, went in to buy some oil. I went to the section of oil, and to my chagrin, there were about a dozen different kinds. I figured that I had a simple car (Parker is a Honda Accord) so I could just get the simplest/cheapest kind of oil. As I was paying for the oil, I worked up my courage and asked the boy (he could not have been more than 18) if he knew anything about putting oil in cars. He said he didn't, but that his co-worker (can't remember his name but I think it was something like Ralph) definitely did. He pointed to the bathroom and indicated that he would be out in a minute.

      So, apparently this whole idea of fixing my own car had flustered me to the point of losing my sense of social decency. For some reason I thought it would be a great idea to go over and wait outside the bathroom for Ralph to come out. He was a little surprised by my close proximity to the door, apparently I was so close that he thought I was just confused about the little standing man icon on the door and said, "This is actually the men's room." After I sorted out that confusion and explained my awkwardness he was very nice and followed me out to my car. I went to put my wallet down in my car and he said, "Can you pop the hood?" I said, "Sure, is it stuck or something?" and promptly went to the front of the car and tried to help him lift it up. He said, "Oh uh...I just meant could you hit the button to pop the hood..."

      I walked back to the front seat to attempt to find the hood-popping button, all the while feeling like a complete moron who stalked people while they were in the bathroom and assumed that a 30+ year-old man would need MY help because he wasn't strong enough to lift up the hood of a car. Oy! Thankfully Ralph was very patient and after two minutes of me pressing the trunk button, the gas tank button, and pulling some plastic piece off the inside of my car, we finally got the hood up.

      Not only did Ralph help me put oil in my car, he took real interest in me and tried to educate me so that in the future, I would be a little more self-sufficient. He asked me if I knew how to check the level of oil in my car, I said, "Oh, my car has a light that tells me when it's low." He didn't even roll his eyes when he said, "Right, but we need to know how much you have so we know how much to put in. So you pull out your dipstick and check...." I'm afraid I didn't hear the rest of what he said because I was using all of my powers of concentration to keep from laughing. I was unsuccessful. On his second use of the word 'dipstick' I giggled uncontrollably. He laughed and just said, "I think one quart of oil will do fine. Do you have a funnel?"

      I stared blankly back and he said, "We have them inside, they're free, you can just go ask for one." The rest of the process went fairly smoothly. He got me a different bottle of oil, because apparently just assuming that simple/cheap cars get simple/cheap oil is incorrect. He poured it in, threw away the empty container and used funnel, and asked me if there was anything else I needed. I almost made it out with a very enthusiastic, but graceful expression of gratitude. But not quite.

      When he was about to go inside I asked one last stupid question, "Should I turn it on to make sure it works?" He said, "Uh..sure." I turned the car on while he watched and after seeing the dashboard I said, "I think we must need more, the light is still on. Should I go get another bottle, or should we do two just to be safe?" He then explained to me that the light was just not reset, and all I had to do was to check the owner's manual to see how to reset the light. I thanked him again and went on my merry way. I felt bad for not doing something for him. But do you tip a friendly gas station attendant? I'm not very savvy about tipping protocol. But I didn't want to risk insulting him, especially since I only had one dollar....

      Stay tuned for upcoming posts 'Parker and I Seek Help from a Mechanic" and "The Big Blowout".